Sat10252014

News

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

A flyer is being distributed across Los Altos that looks like it is from the Los Altos Town Crier but was neither created nor distributed by the community’s weekly newspaper. The flyer, pictured at right, is being distributed by workers from Pyrami...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Subcommittee offers plan to rescue Tiny Tots

Photo Elliott Burr/Town Crier

Tiny Tots preschool teacher Sara Callahan, left, helps Cecilia Dahl, 3, make a festive hat for Thanksgiving. The preschool could face closure if it fails to attain financial solvency.

A report from the Los Altos Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission (PARC) subcommittee could help wean Tiny Tots from its $55,754 annual city subsidy, rescuing the preschool from imminent closure.

Several Los Altos City councilmembers oppose the subsidy largely because the preschool does not meet the city-mandated 100 percent cost recovery and is bleeding money. The 2008-2009 study reported that 44 percent of Tiny Tots’ preschoolers did not reside in Los Altos and that the program lost $51,268 after repaying 53 percent of the cost recovery.

“We’re not in the business of social services,” said Councilwoman Val Carpenter in June in defense of the city’s desire to drop the subsidy.

But the PARC report, compiled by commissioners Maria Bautista, Pradeep Parmar and Larry Baron and scheduled for presentation at Tuesday’s council meeting, recommends several strategies to offset expenses.

The report suggests adding an afternoon program. Tiny Tots currently operates a preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds. Coupled with a fee increase and possible ramp-up in marketing, the expansion could pull the program into the black.

“Either a contract program or a (Los Altos) Recreation Department program can utilize the site in the afternoon,” according to the report, citing the facility’s availability after noon. “Preliminary analysis of a Kindergarten Preparation program indicates that at a capacity of 24 students, 100 percent cost recovery could be achieved with 73 percent classroom utilization across all programs.”

The subcommittee also determined that fee increases would be necessary. A focus group including Tiny Tots parents and PARC representatives discovered that parents would tolerate a 10-15 percent tuition increase.

“I think there’s a lot of leeway for a tuition increase,” said parent Anne Schmidt, whose 4-year-old is currently enrolled.

The report shows an inverse correlation between student capacity and necessary fee increases, stating that at 85 percent class use, fees need to increase 45 percent to achieve 100 percent cost recovery; at 90 percent use, a 29 percent fee increase; and at 100 percent use, a 16 percent increase.

Leea Guy, the Los Altos recreation coordinator who oversees Tiny Tots, agreed that increased marketing efforts could contribute to achieving 100 percent capacity.

In addition to onsite signs and banners to attract drive-by traffic, Guy suggested increasing e-mail outreach and direct-mail brochures to Los Altos families with children that fit the programs’ target demographics.

“We’re in a new generation and need to have some kind of web-based marketing,” said Michael Wegmann, a Tiny Tot parent, at a PARC meeting Nov. 12.

Tiny Tots runs only one program for 3-year-olds and one for 4-year-olds. Guy said the addition of a Kindergarten Preparation program, targeted at 5-year-olds, would be key.

The annual fee for the current program for 3-year-olds is $1,620 for Los Altos residents and $1,662 for nonresidents. For 4-year-olds, tuition is $2,273 for residents and $2,315 for nonresidents.

The addition of a prekindergarten program, which could assist in achieving financial solvency, would require Tiny Tots to install an air-conditioning system for $8,000 to $10,000, according to the report.

A preliminary PARC subcommittee report recommended relocating Tiny Tots from its current San Antonio Club site, but parents’ objections caused the committee to reject the suggestion.

The city council is scheduled to review PARC’s recommendations and determine a plan of action at its Tuesday meeting.

Tiny Tots has been under scrutiny since June, when councilmembers balked at the preschool’s annual subsidy and failure to recover its costs.

Parents and preschoolers staged a demonstration at city hall to protest the school’s potential closure. Placards read, “Get priorities straight” and “Don’t I matter?” After deliberation, the council voted unanimously to extend the preschool’s operation until July and have representatives return with a plan for financial independence at the Tuesday meeting.

Schmidt, who hopes her 2-year-old son can attend next year, said she’d be hard-pressed to find a better program than Tiny Tots.

“It would be a huge loss,” she said. “It would be huge. I just really like the program.”

Contact Elliott Burr at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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